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I do not have a favorite food, a favorite book, a favorite song, a favorite joke, a favorite flower, or a favorite butterfly. My tastes don't work that way.
In general, in any area of art or sensation, there are many ways for something to be good, and they cannot be compared and ordered. I can't judge whether I like chocolate better or noodles better, because I like them in different ways. Thus, I cannot determine which food is my favorite.
Until around 1998, my office at MIT was also my residence. I was even registered to vote from there. Nowadays I have a separate residence in Cambridge not far from MIT. However, I am rarely there, since I am nearly always travelling out of town.
Not all my shirts are red or purple, but many are. I like those colors.
None of my shirts carry messages (such as words or symbols). That practice strikes me as lacking dignity, so I won't wear clothing with symbols, not even for causes I support. This is not a matter of ethical disapproval, so I don't mind selling hats and shirts with free software slogans on behalf of the FSF; but I choose not to wear them myself.
As a matter of principle, I refuse to own a tie.
I find ties uncomfortable, so I don't wear them. If ties were simply a clothing option, I would decline to use them but there would be no reason to make a fuss about it. However, there is an absurd social pressure on men to wear ties. They do this as a form of sucking up to the boss.
When I worked at MIT, I was shocked that MIT graduates, people who could have almost dictated employment terms, felt compelled to wear ties to job interviews, even with companies that (they knew) had the sense not to ask them to wear ties on the job.
I think the tie means, "I will be so subservient as an employee that I will do even totally senseless things just because you tell me to." Going to a job interview without a tie is a way of saying you don't want to work for someone who wants that.
The people who wear ties under these circumstances are victim-coperpetrators: each one who cedes to this pressure and wears a tie increases the pressure on others. This is a central concept for understanding other forms of propagating nastiness, including nonfree software and Facebook. In fact, it was in regard to ties that I first recognized this phenomenon.
I don't condemn victim-coperpetrators, since they are primarily victims and only secondarily perpetrators. But I believe I should not be one of them. I hope my refusal to wear a tie will make it easier for others to refuse as well.
The first time I visited Croatia, that country had a major PR campaign based on being the origin of the tie. ("Cravate" and "Croat" are related words.) You can imagine my distaste for this — therefore, I referred to that country as "Tieland" for a while.
The Free Software Foundation's dress code says that a propeller beanie is required, but other clothing is optional. However, we don't enforce it.
I refuse to have supermarket frequent buyer cards of my own because they are a form of surveillance. I am willing to pay extra for my privacy and to resist an abusive system. See nocards.org for more explanation of this issue.
However, I don't mind using someone else's card or number once in a while for savings. That doesn't track me.
I do use airline frequent flier numbers because the airlines demand to know my identity anyway.
However, I won't purchase other things with an airline-linked credit card to get miles, because I'd rather pay cash and be anonymous.
I refuse to have a cell phone because they are tracking and surveillance devices. They all enable the phone system to record where the user goes, and many (perhaps all) can be remotely converted into listening devices.
In addition, most of them are computers with nonfree software installed. Even if they don't allow the user to replace the software, someone else can replace it remotely. Since the software can be changed, we cannot regard it as equivalent to a circuit. A machine that allows installation of software is a computer, and computers should run free software.
When I need to call someone, I ask someone nearby to let me make a call.
I mostly ignore holidays, except for Grav-mass. They have no direct effect on me, since I work when I wish (which is most of the time) and do other things when I wish.
If I had a family, and holidays were a special opportunity to do some leisure activity when others did not have work or school, that would be a rational reason to pay attention to them. However, I decided not to have a family, and I don't need to wait for a holiday to see my friends.
Many holidays have become commercialized: corporate PR has taught many people that buying things for their friends or relatives on these days is "the thing to do", and the truest expression of love. I dislike the feeling that I am obliged to give a gift for some meaningless event, and I don't want to receive gifts under these circustances either, so I simply don't do it.
I like trains, and in general I would rather take a train for many hours than fly.
However, I absolutely refuse to take Amtrak trains because they check passengers ID (sometimes, not all the time). Please join me in boycotting Amtrak until it stops requiring identification.
First I study with a textbook to learn to read the language, using a recording of the sounds to start saying the words to myself. When I finish the textbook, I start reading children's books (for 7-10 year olds) with a dictionary. I advance to books for teenagers when I know enough words that it becomes tolerably fast.
When I know enough words, I start writing the language in email when I am in conversations with people who speak that language.
I don't try actually speaking the language until I know enough words to be able to say the complex sorts of things I typically want to say. Simple sentences are almost as rare in my speech as in this writing. In addition, I need to know how to ask questions about how to say things, what a word means, and how certain words differ, and how to understand the answers.
I first started actually speaking French during my first visit to France. I decided on arrival in the airport that I would speak only French for the whole 6 weeks. This was frustrating to colleagues whose English was much better than my French. But it enabled me to learn.
I decided to learn Spanish when I saw a page printed in Spanish and found I could mostly read it (given my French and English). I followed the approach described above, and began speaking Spanish during a two-week visit to Mexico, a couple of years later.
As for Indonesian, I have not got enough vocabulary to speak it all the time when in Indonesia, but I try to speak it as much as possible.
I hate being bored, and since I want to get a lot done, I don't like losing time. So I always carry a computer and a book. When I have a few minutes to wait and can sit down, I get work done. When I have to stand, or don't have enough time to do anything useful on the computer, I read.
When I wait for my baggage in an airport, I always do one of these two. And I notice the people around me, feeling anxious and getting nothing done. What a waste.
Copyright (c) 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Richard Stallman
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